ROME – Niels Albert (BKCP-Powerplus) was victorious at the penultimate race of the 2014 UCI Cyclocross World Cup series, holding on to a five-lap solo breakaway to finish four seconds ahead of Lars van der Haar (Rabobank Development Team).
Sporadic showers kept the already-muddy course from caking up, which no doubt helped racers who were running traditional cantilever brakes. With little to no elevation change and a large section of the course exposed to the wind, Albert’s breakaway became all the more dramatic into the final laps, as the chaser’s ability to draft came into play.
Albert’s teammate, Philipp Walsleben (BKCP-Powerplus) took the holeshot followed closely by Martin Bina (Kwadro-Stannah), Albert and Francis Mourey (FDJ.fr), with the four riders gaining a slight advantage over the field going into the second lap.
The next time around Albert dug deep to put distance between himself and fellow race leaders, growing his advantage to 17 seconds at one point. Behind them, the World Cup series leader, Lars Van der Haar, was off to a slow start, making his way up to the chase group of Wietse Bosmans (BKCP-Powerplus), Corne Van Kessel (Telenet-Fidea), Thijs van Amerongen (AA Drink Cycling Team) and Bart Wellens (Telenet-Fidea).
Sven Nys (Crelan-AA Drink), who hadn’t placed on the podium this season in the World Cup series, was also recovering from a poor start, leapfrogging chase groups from around twentieth position.
With three to go, Van der Haar, now attached to the main chase group, passed his top rival for the overall title, Walsleben, taking up third position behind Mourey. The German champion Walsleben continued to fall back over the remainder of the race, finishing just outside of the top ten.
Into lap seven, Nys had made his way to the chase, now in a three-way battle with Van der Haar and Mourey for the remaining podium positions. The group, closing in on Albert, could see the race leader as they passed each other on the multiple switch back sections of the course, but Albert pressed on, holding the dwindling gap through the finishing stretch.
Albert crossed the line to celebrate just as the chasers appeared on the tarmac, with Van der Haar outsprinting Nys to take second. Morey finished fourth and Bina rounded out the top five.
2014 World Cup Rome, Elite Men's Results
|2||Lars VAN DER HAAR||NED||1:06:37|
|7||Thijs VAN AMERONGEN||NED||1:07:23|
|9||Corne VAN KESSEL||NED||1:07:49|
|15||Marco Aurelio FONTANA||ITA||1:08:41|
|18||Twan VAN DEN BRAND||NED||1:08:53|
|31||Patrick VAN LEEUWEN||NED||1:10:16|
|36||Micki VAN EMPEL||NED||1:11:23|